What Does Glycolic Acid Do for Your Skin?
If you’re into skin care, you’ve likely come across many glycolic acid products on store shelves. It’s long been a mainstay in dermatologist offices and the interest in glycolic acid for everyday use has spiked in recent years.
As such, if you’re on the hunt for a new skin care product to add to your daily regimen, you have plenty of options formulated with this popular ingredient that you can choose from, ranging from facial cleansers to moisturizers to serums. But before you add this key active to your regimen, you may want to learn about glycolic acid benefits, side effects and topical application options.
Keep reading to get the rundown on the beauty benefits of glycolic acid, and some amazing products to help you reap them.
What Is Glycolic Acid?
First things first, if you’re new to this ingredient, let’s define what it is before we discuss how to use it. Glycolic acid is one of the most common alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) used in cosmetics, and according to the Mayo Clinic, AHAs are a substance that can help exfoliate dead skin cells from the surface of your skin, as well as helping lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
What Are the Benefits of Glycolic Acid?
Glycolic acid has a lot of benefits, and its versatile nature is what makes it a skin care favorite.
- Younger-Looking Skin
Glycolic acid can contribute to the appearance of younger-looking skin, since it helps shed dead skin cells and lessen the appearance of dark spots, as the American Academy of Dermatology reports.
- Faster Product Absorption
Alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid can prep your skin to better absorb your other skin care products, leading to more effective results.
- Fewer Wrinkles
The U.S. National Library of Medicine also states that in addition to resurfacing the skin and evening skin tone, glycolic acid can also minimize the appearance of wrinkles.
- Reduction of Dark Spots
Glycolic acid is also recognized as an effective anti-aging resurfacing ingredient for evening skin tone and dark spots.
What Are the Disadvantages of Glycolic Acid?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, side effects of AHAs like glycolic acid include mild irritation to the skin and increased sun sensitivity. Your skin barrier can also be damaged if you’re exposed to the sun while using AHAs, as the National Center for Biotechnology Information reports. If you notice any skin irritation, decrease your use of your glycolic acid product, make sure to use a hydrating moisturizer, and see a dermatologist if the irritation continues.
How to Use Glycolic Acid Safely
Before you start using a skin care product formulated with glycolic acid, make sure you’re prepared. Alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid can increase your skin’s sun sensitivity, so you’ll need to take sun safety and protection seriously. The FDA recommends using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and limiting sun exposure, which means seeking shade and avoiding the sun during its peak hours.
Additionally, you may want to start slow with your glycolic acid product to avoid any potential irritation. Start by using your new product two to three times per week, and build up to nightly use.
How to Choose the Right Glycolic Acid Product for You
If you’re a first-time user of glycolic acid, speaking to a dermatologist before adding it to your routine is important so you don’t cause any damage or irritation to your skin. If you’ve used glycolic acid before, adding a new product to your routine will depend on your skin care needs and whether you prefer it in your cleansing step, moisturizer, or serum.